Thursday, April 23, 2009

All The Fallen Robins

I've been listening to Leonard Cohen's "The Chelsea Hotel", which is about Janis Joplin. Supposedly the two met at the Chelsea Hotel, she gave him head while the limousines were waiting (we are not told if he gave her head), and she spoke to him so sweetly and so strong. The lyrics deserve several listenings from a feminist: the talk about ugliness and beauty and especially the ending where he muses over not loving her the best, not thinking over every fallen robin, but all this with an odd ambiguity.

Janis Joplin died before this song was written. Her life killed her. She was a robin who fell. But then so many artists fall that way. Still, what was that world like for women, the super-hyper-sexualized world of popular music in those days? Especially for a woman who had the divine fire in her shell of nothing special? Who had the job of multi-tasking as sexual objects, cheerleaders AND the creative geniuses? It must have been extremely hard.

That phrase about 'every fallen robin' stuck with me. I think it would not be applied to men who die of drug overdoses or suicides, because they are not small birds. Or chicks.